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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching for Home Learning: Secondary Science. Join the course to learn more.

Starting to plan a sequence of learning

Interaction is a critical part of learning, and when planning a sequence of learning for remote teaching it is helpful to break this down into three components (Moore, 1993):

  • Student – teacher interactions
  • Student – student interactions
  • Student – content/resources interactions

Teacher, students and resources - double headed arrows between each; a loop above students suggesting students interact with each other Adapted from: Moore (1993); Anderson and Garrison (1998)

Generally, in your classroom, there will be quite a high level of interaction between you and your students, which won’t be possible to maintain now that your students are at home. However, Anderson (2003) suggests that if one of these three types of interaction has to be lower for some reason, (which is often teacher/student interaction in distance education), then a high quality of learning can be maintained by increasing the level and quality of one or both of the other two types of interaction.

In talking to students, unsurprisingly, Anderson found a variety of preferences for different methods of remote teaching, with some students preferring to work through material by themselves and in their own time (asynchronously), other preferring real-time interaction (synchronous) with others, some preferring to work at their own pace with others preferring paced learning. The trick is to ‘get the mix right’ to meet the needs of all learners. Just as we would not teach in the same mode all term in school, we need to plan for a mix of different types of interaction.

Simple ‘swim lane’ planning template

One way of planning out a week’s learning is to use a ‘swim lane’, which draws out the interaction between teacher, student and content: who will be doing what at each point of the week. This will help you to think about how you could maintain student engagement by having the outcomes of asynchronous activities feeding into synchronous activities.

We’ve provided a blank weekly plan for you to start to devise a sequence of activities for one of your classes. Add in some ideas, and as we move through the two weeks of this course, we’ll prompt you to re-visit the plan and develop it further. Don’t worry if you’re unsure of teaching strategies to use at this point, as we’ll be exploring techniques and tools later in the course.

Of course, even when studying independently, students are not alone. They may be able to call on their friends or family for support. Depending on the contexts of your students, you may wish to add a column for ‘parents/carers’.


Download the blank copy of the weekly planning tool:

Begin to populate it with some ideas. At the end of week 2, we’ll ask you to revisit and review your plan, but for now, use it as a working document to refine your ideas as you progress through the course.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching for Home Learning: Secondary Science

National STEM Learning Centre